No vote for any of these politicians!

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
12 June 2024

Railway workers' union leader Mick Lynch of the RMT, has been getting about of late, appearing on various media platforms in the run-up to the election.

    Since he isn't a member of the Labour Party and the RMT is not affiliated to Labour, unlike most other unions, one might have expected him to feel free to attack Keir Starmer et al, for their opportunism - and, as the Green Party deputy leader put it, for "changing the Labour Party... into the Tory Party".

    At this point one should say, of course, that to gain political recognition in this capitalist world, however degenerate and well beyond its sell-by-date the system may be, Labour has always had to be its advocate. Labour politicians have never proposed socialism - even if the Tories love to accuse them of it - having given that up as early as 1904, at the time of Labour's foundation, and on the insistence of its union bureaucrat founders!

No deal for workers

So what did the RMT leader say about Labour's campaign? There were plenty of things to remark upon. For instance Starmer even joked that today's Tory Manifesto was just like Jeremy Corbyn's in 2017 (from which Mr Keir has just copied and pasted the chapter on railway re-nationalisation!) because it "promised everything and costed nothing". Apparently he intended this as a double insult against Rishi Sunak!

    The most Mick Lynch dared to say was that Labour's policies may be "a bit bland", or that they should "be bolder"... In the meantime he has republished the RMT statement on the election, saying "It is objectively in the interests of working people to get the Tories out which means getting a Labour led government in, and our members will need to campaign and vote accordingly".

    One reason to vote Labour, says he, is Labour's "New Deal for Working People", because Labour says it will repeal the 2016 Trade Union Act, the Minimum Services Act and is supporting public ownership... of the railway - well, "in large parts", anyway!

    However his union leader comrade, Sharon Graham of UNITE, begs to differ. She says it's evident that Labour is watering down its New Deal to suit the business community, which it has been wooing with smoked salmon breakfasts, in order to get support - and money!

    Indeed, Labour has so impressed British business that its donations are at record levels: in 2023, Starmer got £14.4m from companies and individuals (double what it got last year) and just £5.9m from the trade union movement, an amount which is shrinking as union membership shrinks.

    Feeling snubbed, UNITE's Sharon Graham decided to "expose" Labour's wrongdoing. She wrote in the Guardian how Labour refuses to enshrine collective bargaining, which is where union bureaucrats come into their own: it gives them reserved seats at the bosses' table to "negotiate" - while the real collective of workers is meant to stand respectfully outside and await the "verdict".

    But at least Graham highlights the dilutions Labour has made to its promises: on zero-hours contracts, for instance, it has changed its policy from an outright ban, to workers now having a "theoretical right" to a contract with regular hours. There will be no blanket ban on "fire and rehire", either. Never mind that these should have been fundamental and "non-negotiable"!

    But what does Graham say after her expose of Labour's sins? That she, however, will still vote Labour!

Workers can and will make the "change"

Not one union leader has the gumption to escape from Labour's tent and tell it like it is. To admit that there is no future under Labour and moreover, no future under this capitalist system! Of course anyone who seriously defends socialist ideas and talks about the need for a party of the working class to be built, finally, and for the first time, is not going to be invited twice to ITV studios, or the BBC's Newsnight.

    Today, while many workers have active mandates for strikes over wages and job cuts, everything has been put on hold for the election to take place. As if bills can wait till after 4 July...

    But it won't be the first time that the Mick Whelans, Mick Lynches and the rest, put the interests of the Labour Party ahead of working class interests - one of the most scandalous examples was when postal workers voted by 96% against privatisation of Royal Mail in June 2013 and the CWU refused to call a strike in case it upset the image of the Party!

    The lesson of this sorry tale is that the working class cannot rely on anyone else to do the job of organising its ranks and particularly not, when there are fights to be had for lives and livelihoods! It can only rely on itself. And we should add, that it is these fights, not any number of votes in a ballot box, which can and will change this society, and finally, overturn the cause of its ills, that is, capitalism.